Home Improvement Tips for Retirement

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Your retirement years are your reward for a life of honest hard work, and the chance for you to do all the things you may not have had time to do in your working years.

With so much free time it’s likely you’ll start to think about all the possible improvements you can make to your home, some of which you’ll have been dreaming of for years. Home improvements are so popular with over 55s that it is the most common reason people take out equity release plans in their later years according to latest figures.

The average equity release figure currently stands at over £80,000, so you can see why people are increasingly using comparison sites like equityrelease.co.uk to find the best plan to achieve this financial freedom.

If you are worried about having enough money to spend when you retire then you can use the value of your house to your advantage. A reverse mortgage will allow you to access a percentage of that value and control both how you receive the funds and how you spend them. All you have to do is obtain the loan from a reverse-loan lender. You will then receive the money you need, typically in monthly installments until you reach the limit of the amount you are allowed to borrow. For as long as you continue to use the home as a primary residence your loan cannot be called in. However, you or your family will be required to pay the balance in full if you pass away or move out of the home. Alternatively, the home can be sold in order for the lender to recover the money you borrowed upon your death or absence from the home.

There are a number of interesting and cost-effective tips to improving your home in retirement, and in this blog we’ll look at some of the best that we recommend for shoring up your castle.

Tip #1 – Energy Efficiency

What if we told you that there are easy improvements you could make that would save you money in the long run, whilst also increasing the value of your property?

Making your home as energy efficient as possible may not sound like the most exciting way to start enjoying retirement, but we promise it will be worth it to see your energy bills reduced and your property value all the better for it.

First, you should ensure all your windows are fitted with A-rated double glazing which reduces heat loss through the glass itself. The Energy Saving Trust estimate that you could save up to £160 a year on your annual bills through this sole action.

The next step to a perfectly insulated home is to ensure your external doors and letter boxes are insulated and well draught-proofed. By installing A-rated external doors you could save up to £35 a year on your bills, so this makes another no-brainer for keeping your home warm and bringing down your annual cost of living.

Best of all, these energy efficiency measures have been reported by government figures to increase the value of your home by 14% on average, even as high as 38% in some cases! This stand-out factor surely makes using your spare time and cash to make your home as energy efficient as possible.

Tip #2 – New Appliances

Sometimes we keep hold of our old appliances because they still work, are familiar, and above all “get the job done.” However, we often neglect to think of the implications that these old and outdated technologies can have on our bills and the environment.

One of the biggest advantages to new appliances is their effect on your energy bills. By buying new and more energy efficient appliances you can shave £££s off your monthly electricity bill whilst also enjoying the advantages of all the latest technology on offer today.

Another important factor to consider is the size of your appliances. If you still have a large fridge freezer fit for a family, but you now live alone or with your partner, you could end up forking out a huge amount for fridge/freezer space you don’t actually need. Not only that, but if this is an old and uneconomical model you’ll end up with a double whammy of unneeded energy costs.

If you’re looking to make your home as efficient and reliable as you can in retirement, your next port of call is to think about replacing your boiler. Not only could you save upwards of £350 a year with an energy efficient boiler, an old boiler model runs the high risk of an eventual breakdown.

In your later years the reliability of your heating and hot water should be a priority, therefore it is paramount you have the peace of mind that you have modern trustworthy equipment backing you up in your home.

Tip #3 – Outdoor Decking

A great way to add extra value to your property whilst also creating a useful and aesthetically pleasing living space is outdoor decking.

By transforming a section of your garden into a purpose built area for both relaxing and entertaining you can make the most of your available outdoor-space without breaking the bank.

Decks offer a versatile space that allow you to host memorable BBQs, social gatherings, and events with family and friends whilst offering a comfortable raised area where you can relax in the sunshine during the warmer months. As well as a host of uses, decks also come in a range of sizes and styles; there is always an option that would perfectly suit your home and garden, whatever the size.

With even high-end professional-built decks costing a fraction per square foot of an indoor room, house decking offers the most cost effective option for sprucing up your home and improving your quality of life.

The more DIY enthusiastic can also maintain or even construct these wooden decks themselves using a range of guides available both in print and online – bringing the costs down further still.


Tip #4 – Fix the little jobs ASAP

It is imperative that in your early retirement years you don’t overlook the small jobs that you’ve been putting off for months or even years that you know need to be tackled sooner rather than later.

These small jobs can easily become big jobs if it’s something that could potentially get worse such as a small leak in a pipe, an overflowing gutter, a loose hinge on a door or simply a bit of touch-up painting.

As you get older you may lose the energy to do these jobs and they could grow even worse still over time, so it’s important you tackle them early whilst you can and whilst they are manageable.

In short, don’t let a small job become an ignored and costly task in your later years that you can no longer do yourself. Allow yourself to enjoy the rest of your retirement knowing your home is watertight, safe, and looking its best so you can relax and plan the things you really want to do, not the ones you need to.


Why I’m Not Taking Maternity Leave

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I’ve had a few people ask me recently why I am working when I have got a 7 week old baby – did I not know that I could claim maternity allowance as I’m self employed? The actual fact is yes, I knew and it is something I weighed up for weeks but ultimately maternity allowance at £139 just wouldn’t be enough. A blogger recently contacted me and asked if I knew about it and completely understood when I mentioned why I wasn’t taking it – however I have received some judgement from some people I know in real life. However, it is my situation and my decision – what has it got to do with them?

As I’m working from home (there’s a fab guide here that you can read if its something you’ve ever considered), I have the flexibility of working when I want to. I do try to keep to typical ‘office’ hours but that doesn’t always work that way and I am often seen working weekends or late into the night. I worked out that with my bills and my debt repayments (I’ve talked more about my plan for a debt free 2018 here), £139 per week which equals £556 a month just wouldn’t be enough if I was to factor in any top up groceries we may need or anything that may crop up at Jack’s school. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to spend all the time in the world with my baby but I’m taking the time when she’s asleep or spending time with Steve to actually get some work done. I find it is better to be proactive and keep bringing an income in than not be able to pay my bills.

Another big reason I haven’t taken maternity leave is because I have actually taken on some freelance clients towards the end of 2016 and they wanted work to continue into 2017. They are my biggest client and I don’t want to lose them so I will continue working for them around my children. I’ve also had a really great January and February for income – I’ve even managed to pay off some debt – so if I had taken maternity leave, I wouldn’t have made that money and I would have probably lost a big client.

I’m lucky that I’m able to work from home around my children, I don’t deny that. But I’m not taking maternity leave this time around because it just isn’t worth it for me – and I’m well on my way to becoming debt free so why stop now? Whilst Olivia is asleep, I am going to work and keep the pennies rolling in. Is that so wrong?

My Ultimate Spa Experience

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Being a mum of two children aged five and under, getting time to relax is extremely rare. When I do, it means I get a few minutes for a bath or some time to read my book. Most recently, my mother in law took me out to get my hair cut and coloured and the time to relax was bliss. However I’ve been talking with my friends recently and we are determined to go on a spa day and really get a chance to relax.

But what would be my ultimate spa experience? I’ve never actually been to a spa despite always wanting to so I’m unsure what I’d love the most. The team over at www.ellisons.co.uk are in the process of creating an eBook about the Ultimate Spa Experience and I am intrigued to see just what will be included in that. Everyone has different ideas about their perfect spa day but what exactly is mine?

I think for me I would definitely have to get a massage. I’ve always suffered with aches and pains but more so since having my children and it would be nice to be able to get the stress and tension massaged away, especially down at the lower back where I get most of my pain. I’d definitely have to get a facial as I’m not getting any younger and I need to show my face I still care about it, right? It doesn’t get much love.  I’d also have to take a dip in the pool and then finish off with a trip to the sauna too.

To make it the ultimate spa experience with my girls, it’d have to be a real treat – maybe a three course meal for us all, a few glasses of champagne or perhaps even some afternoon tea. If I’m going to a spa, I want to not have to worry about a thing – and that includes eating too. Food, fun, relaxation. What’s not to love? Of course I’d have to find a spa that caters for everything we want but that shouldn’t be too hard.

For my ultimate spa experience, I want to not have to worry about a thing – let someone else do the worrying for once. I want to spend some time with my girls, chatting and reminiscing on funny things from the past. I want to try a variety of treatments and feel pampered and fed to within an inch of my life. Is that too much to ask for?

What would your ultimate spa experience be?

Why You Should Choose Organic Cotton Clothing For Newborn Babies

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When it comes to pregnancy, we spend nine whole months looking after and protecting our unborn child – avoiding alcohol and the extensive list of foods we’re told to stay away from, protecting our bump from hits and taking our folic acid and vitamins. As parents, we want to do best by our child, give them the best chance in life – and this starts from the very moment they are born.

Newborn skin can be very sensitive so it is important to choose clothing for your baby that won’t irritate them and is soft on their skin rather than rough. With Olivia having been born less than three weeks ago, newborn clothing is something we’ve been buying a lot of and we’ve been veering towards organic cotton clothing such as the Natures Purest Newborn Range as we want to ensure Olivia is as comfortable as possible.

There are so many benefits to using organic cotton clothing on babies – especially when they have the potential to have quite sensitive skin like their brother as Olivia could possibly do. The material is sourced from organic farms, farms which don’t use chemical substances such as pesticides or fertilisers, plus the manufacturers use environmentally friendly methods of production, eliminating the need for toxic chemicals which can irritate a newborns sensitive skin.

We are also creating a demand for organic clothes which in turn encourages organic farming, thus helping to reduce the amount of toxic chemical substances being used. This will ultimately reduce the percentage of toxicity in the surrounding environment such as air, water, and soil – safeguarding not only our present but our future too.

We’ve been choosing organic cotton clothing for Olivia this time around as we know its good for not only her but also the world around her – we want to protect our baby from any harm – and protecting her from the potential of irritated skin from her clothing is just one of the ways. If you want to help not only your child but also help organic farms too, why not consider opting for organic cotton clothes for your baby – you definitely won’t regret it!

Trying New Things In 2017

I always talk about wanting to try new things but it can be so hard to put that plan into action. With such a busy life with two children, two blogs and my freelance work plus a home to run (plus all of the kid’s appointments and activities too), finding time for myself and to try something new is proving increasingly difficult. I am yet to finish a book in 2017 – good thing I chose a low reading goal for my 2017 reading challenge – but I am keen to try at least a couple of new things this year.

One of my major bugbears is that I didn’t persevere with Modern Foreign Languages in secondary school. I gained half a GCSE in both French and German as I was in the top set for both and we did an advanced course – I considered studying French at GCSE but ultimately switched it out for Geography, a decision I regret horribly now. Languages have always intrigued me and whilst my school only had French and German to offer back then, I’ve always been more interested in languages such as Italian and Spanish.

Steve’s cousin studied Spanish for A-Levels and I believe even her university course had something to do with Spanish as a language and believe me, I was so envious. I’ve been looking at ways of learning a new language such as Spanish that works around me, my life and my timetable. I could attend classes but these would be hard to find at times that I could actually do – plus Olivia would need to come with me. I’ve also noted online courses but I also need to find time to slot them in. I’ve recently found a website though which enables you to learn Spanish fast – it is called Gritty Spanish and is can be loaded onto any device. They also offer eBooks for easy side by side translations and you learn via the stories told – you won’t be bored like some learning programmes can leave you. They also feature emotive voices from every form of Spanish accent there is  – Spanish, Mexican, Guatemalan and more – so you can really understand the accents and way of saying the words.

This is great to fit around my schedule and my lifestyle and will certainly keep me interested with the fun little stories. What new things do you want to try in 2017?

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